Sunday, January 16, 2011

Of dreams lost and found

It's been nearly two weeks since my last blog entry. Guess I better finish my story...

Well, I finished the RAAM qualifier back in 1985, but I didn't qualify. I could blame it on the strep throat. I could blame it on the allergic reaction to the anti-biotic. I could blame it on the fact that I didn't get enough sleep before the start. I could blame it on the fact that I was under trained and had developed two sore achilles tendons nearly three quarters of the way into the event. But the fact of the matter is, I simply didn't qualify. At the 500-mile mark, I was in a qualifying position, but at that point my crew decided that I need to stop for some real rest. Sure, I had been hallucinating for several hours now. But I hadn't really said anything about that until the race was all over. I think what gave me away was that I was having a hard time staying awake when they saw me at the checkpoints. So we stopped, and I slept for over two hours. By the time I got back on the bike, I had been passed by 10 other cyclists. That was the beggining of the end for me, and for any chance of me doing the 1986 Race Across AMerica.

I felt good that I had at least completed the 700-mile RAAM qualifier, but I was to come home with something else that I would rather not have. Those achilles tendons took a long time to heal, and for the next couple years, I felt the pain every morning I got up out of bed and placed my weight on them. Finally, one morning about two years later, I realized the pain was finally gone. By 1987 I had begun to participate in ultras again, but very cautiously and with no intention of competing, only for the enjoyment of the sport. In 1988, I decided to do something I had dreamed of for many years, ride my bike across the United States. But rather than a race, I loaded up my touring bike with panniers, a handlebar bag, cooking gear, a sleeping bag, and a ground pad. On June 19, 1988, I flew out to San Franciso with my boxed up home on wheels. The following day, I would begin a 2,000-mile, 30-day journey that would change my life forever - for the better.

But that's a story for another day...

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